Putting together outfits is a daily ritual that I personally cherish. How am I deciding to present myself to the world today? How do I feel in these clothes? How much does my outfit really matter?
Fashion and personal style aren’t prioritized by everyone, but that isn’t to say they should not, or do not, matter to everyone. Every single day we get to make a decision about what we are going to wear and how we are going to present ourselves to the world.
After all, we assign labels, make assumptions and draw stereotypes based on the way people dress. Someone who keeps up with trends is quickly elevated or seen as “cool.” Someone who dresses “less professionally” in certain settings is seen as less serious about their job or even less competent at work. Whether we like it or not, we passively (or sometimes actively) pass judgment upon others based on what articles of clothing they choose to put on their bodies.
However, judging someone’s character based on the way they dress — whether their style is trendy, basic or eccentric — is a shallow take. Yet, it is a shallow take that I am completely guilty of. This judgment isn’t reserved solely for others; it can apply to yourself, too.
To be completely honest, for a long time, a huge part of why I cared so much about the way I dressed was so I could control the way I was perceived by others. This wasn’t a conscious effort but rather a natural consequence of my own insecurity.
Fashion and style can be a slippery slope in that way. I used to stress (and sometimes still do) about putting together the perfect outfit to go to class rather than putting on what actually made me feel comfortable and myself. I was obsessed with being labeled as unique, creative or “cool” by others and relied solely on my sense of style as a way to receive external validation in these areas.
So, on the days where I didn’t actually feel like expressing myself through fashion, I felt an intense pressure to keep up the image of myself I had put so much effort into painting. I used my style as a crutch because I believed that my uniqueness, creativity and “coolness” was attached to it.
I want to note that we can actually draw some conclusions based on the way a person dresses. As someone who puts a lot of thought and energy into outfits, I can tell when someone else is doing the same. Therefore, I can conclude that we have at least one common interest: having fun with what we wear.
However, that’s as deep as I go. While the way someone dresses might give me a little insight into how they decide to present themselves to the world, that doesn’t mean I actually know anything about who they are. And that same philosophy applies to the way you are perceived by others.
Fashion should be fun. It should be personal. It’s a great way to express yourself, to reflect how you’re feeling or to experiment creatively. For me, it has been a way to connect with people I might not have otherwise.
The next time you find yourself worrying about whether or not your outfit is too much or not enough, try and find the core reason for that worry. Who are you dressing for? Do you feel like yourself in these clothes? Why does fashion actually matter to you?